As I began reflecting on this semester’s course in Digital Public History, I decided to return to my initial post to see what I had hoped to learn from this experience. In that early post, I noted:
“My goals for the semester are to have a refresher course on the public history field, to learn more about audiences and how to create digital projects for them, and to gain more sophistication in my work with digital humanities tools and sites.”
Just two days ago, we celebrated the Day of Public Humanities (#Day of PH). Thanks to the everyone involved with the Digital Public Humanities Graduate Certificate Program at George Mason, I had much to celebrate. It has been a wonderful year.
I have learned so much this semester, and from Dr. Robertson last semester. After a year in the program, I am familiar with and have some experience working with WordPress, Omeka, Neatline, OHMS, Carto, Palladio, Voyant, and other DH tools. In addition, I am very aware of the work of others in the field.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to read so many pieces on a variety of genres of Public History over the past few months. In addition, I have been able to explore numerous Digital Public History projects, and to learn more about working in Digital Public History. This is an important and cutting edge field, and I am so pleased to have had this opportunity to become more involved in it.
Since Dr. Leon structured our Digital Public History projects to progress in a specific way (from Elevator Pitches to Personas to Storyboards to Content Templates to Social Media Planning to Evaluation Plans to Project Presentations), and she required us to present frequent Progress Updates, it has been fairly easy to focus and stay on track. Being able to look back at each step on the Course Site has been extremely useful, too. Now I know how I should proceed with future projects, and how I can teach other people to do the same.
Dr. Leon’s emphasis on keeping our audiences in mind has been so helpful to me as my project has progressed. With so many possible avenues to take, having the women’s history and local history audiences in mind, through my personas of Carla and Elizabeth and her Public Library patrons, has helped me to focus. The project has become a much better one since I have thought about the types of audiences that I will be reaching through different social media sites and I have added the Social Media Plugin for them.
I decided to make my project a crowdsourcing one, so my audience members have been my contributors, as well as women’s history, local history, and social media audiences. Just this morning, I received a message from one of my cousins, an early contributor who strove very hard to learn how to work with Omeka and the digital primary sources. She had viewed my screencast (see below), and she asked if I agreed that the local history sections will be fan favorites. I thanked her for her participation, and I replied that I hoped that the Neatline maps and the Women of the Century by Birthplace exhibition will be helpful. As I expand them and the parts of the site focusing on generations and occupations, educational institutions, organizations, and periodicals relating to women, I hope that audience members with interests in those topics will be pleased. I’m also putting quite a bit of effort into adding personal networks and including primary sources, since I believe that they are crucial components for understanding the lives of these women. It is a joy to share what I have learned about Omeka and historical research with others, and I look forward to working with current and future contributors on this enormous project.
It is my wish that my project, A Woman of the Century: A Crowdsourcing Project of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries, will become a go-to place for people interested in both women’s history and local history. I have learned so much about Omeka and my sources while creating it, and I hope that my initial contributors have felt the same way. Learning how to work with various plugins and exploring how they can add to the quality of the project has been challenging and exciting. I have worked hard, and I’m glad that my prototype, while far from a final product, is much better than it was during its early days.
Feedback from Dr. Leon, my contributors, and my classmates has been crucial in these improvements. I’m most grateful for the time, assistance, and constructive criticism which they have given to me. It has been a pleasure exploring the projects, videos, and screencasts by my classmates, and I have enjoyed getting to know some of them better through our course Slack Channel.
Thanks to the suggestion of Screencast-O-Matic from my Kelsey, my thirteen year old niece, I have created a screencast about my project. Since I have shared the screencast with friends and colleagues, I have received promises of future participation from several people. Once the end of the semester rush is over for all of us, I look forward to their participation. The semester is ending, but my project is in its early stages. I will take what I have learned this semester and build on it as my project moves forward. I have been working on the database related to this project for many years, and even what I have completed so far is a dream come true.
I’m very grateful for having had the opportunity to take Digital Public History with Dr. Leon. I look forward to the next course in Teaching and Learning History in the Digital Age and to my internship with the Smithsonian Institution.